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Anjalé D. Welton, Ph.D.

The Motivator

Anjalé D. Welton

Assistant professor, Education, Policy, Organization, and Leadership
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Motivator


Anjalé D. Welton is an assistant professor in education, policy, organization, and leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Welton examines how opportunity structures—such as issues of stratification and access to college preparation and information—shape the connections that students of color make to educational resources and matriculation to college. Other research areas include the politics of equity as it pertains to race and diversity in school reform and improvement, as well as youth voice in the school improvement process.

Dr. Welton has been published in the Teachers College Record, Journal of School Leadership, Education and Urban Society, Negro Educational Review, Journal of Educational Administration, The Urban Review, and Educational Administration Quarterly, among others. Her professional experiences include serving as a coordinator of a leadership and empowerment program for urban youth, a facilitator of an urban education teacher preparation program, and a teacher in large urban districts. Dr. Welton is committed to providing professional development for educational leaders on equity and diversity. Dr. Welton received her Ph.D. in educational policy and planning from The University of Texas at Austin.

Q&A with Anjalé Welton

What do you hope to accomplish through research focused on working learners?

We need to better define “working learner.” What are the needs of the working learner? What is the typical day for a working learner? What are the realities they face in school, out of school or in the workplace? We can’t craft the policy for this population until we have a better understanding of the issues and challenges they face and how these individuals are navigating them. I am specifically interested in looking at how students of color connect to learning resources and what structures are in place that enable them to make those connections.

What are you most passionate about and what excites you about the Aces Research Network?

I am most passionate about having honest conversations with leaders about equity and cultural responsiveness. From my own personal experiences, I am interested in looking at issues related to post-secondary access for students of color. The collaborative nature of the Aces Research Network will help breathe new life into these issues, and bring a fresh perspective to policy analysis that focuses on working learners.

Where might the group focus research efforts to support working learners?

One of our virtues as a collaborative research group is our ability to leverage qualitative data from ACT in gathering information about the operations of different sites, agencies, schools, and programs. One big measure will be if and how these groups understand the needs of the working learner populations they are serving. Our job will be to help facilitate this understanding as well as offer tools and resources that enable them to better support working learners.

How do we make the research helpful to these groups?

We will make the research products relatable and actionable. A report is helpful, but not when it sits on a desk. We need to actually show how certain policies and practices can work. We need to help cross-pollinate across regional sites/economies and leaders who are implementing ideas and innovations. The story-telling and on-the-ground support that can motivate leaders and stakeholders are just as important as the numbers and data we provide.

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